Apple designer exodus continues as three-decade veteran leaves

Apple Inc.’s longest-serving senior industrial designer is leaving the company, marking the near-complete turnover of a team once led by Jony Ive.

Bart Andre, who joined Apple in 1992 alongside Ive, told colleagues this month that he is retiring, according to people familiar with the matter.

Andre was one of the last remaining designers from the Ive era and helped create the aesthetic for Apple products released over the past three decades — even prior to Steve Jobs returning to the helm in the late 1990s.

The designer was known as one of Ive’s top lieutenants and helped run the team after former chief Evans Hankey, Ive’s successor, departed last year. He’s also known as one of the biggest holders of Apple patents.

“His mark on Apple products is indelible — I see him every day in the details,” said Christopher Stringer, who used to work with Andre at Apple and now runs sound company Syng.

The departure is the latest in recent months for the group.

Top designers Colin Burns, Shota Aoyagi and Peter Russell-Clarke all left around the end of last year.

Multiple longtime designers on Apple’s software design team have also signalled they are planning to leave in the near future.

Both the industrial design and user interface groups are overseen by Jeff Williams, the company’s chief operating officer.

He’s held that role since Ive’s departure in 2019 but took on direct management of the industrial-design team last year when Hankey left.

Having an operations person oversee a division dedicated to design and innovation has rankled some staff, according to the people close to the situation.

There have also been cost-cutting measures that have added to the unrest, they said. Under Ive, the team embarked on exploratory projects that didn’t necessarily have an immediate payoff — something that’s been reined in.

Apple, based in Cupertino, California, didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Ive’s core design team was made up of about two dozen people for well over a decade. Around the time Ive left in 2019, an exodus began.

Nearly all of the senior designers who reported directly to Ive have now left. Many of them joined LoveFrom, a design firm founded by Ive that worked with Apple until two years ago.

The industrial- design team has been replenished with new outside talent, but there are few longtime members remaining who worked under Ive and helped create hit products like the iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch.

Richard Howarth, who serves as vice president of design, is a carryover from the Ive era, along with Molly Anderson and Duncan Kerr.

Since Hankey’s departure, the most senior designers have led the team’s day-to-day operations, working alongside Williams.

The operating chief was picked to manage the group, in part, so that he could better coordinate with the manufacturing team. There also was a lack of other viable options to replace Hankey.

The Apple design team is tasked with devising the look and feel of devices and software, as well as developing new features and interfaces.

That includes minute details like the sound of ringtones and alerts from an iPhone.

The group was central to the creation of the company’s last two product categories, the Apple Watch and Vision Pro.

The watch’s design was spearheaded by Ive, who also helped craft the iMac, iPod and iPhone.

Though the Vision Pro began development during his tenure, he left years before it was released.

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Apple designer exodus continues as three-decade veteran leaves